The MC2-Receptor (melanocortin 2 receptor, MC2-R) is a Gs-protein coupled receptor that is upregulated by its own ligand ACTH and by forskolin. The mechanisms regulating MC2-R expression are still unclear. We therefore investigated the role of the stimulatory transcription factors CREB and CREM and the inhibitory factor ICER for regulation of human MC2-R expression. We cotransfected mouse adrenocortical Y1 cells with luciferase reporter gene vectors containing full length and deleted human MC2-R promoter constructs with expression plasmids for CREB, CREBS133A, CREMtau, CREMtauS117A, or ICER. Direct protein-DNA interaction was investigated by EMSA. Wild type CREB did not significantly affect promoter activity due to high endogenous CREB activity. However, CREBS133A decreased forskolin stimulated MC2-R promoter activity by 48+/-5% (mean+/-SEM) while unstimulated values remained unchanged. CREMtau moderately increased basal and forskolin stimulated luciferase activity in a dose-dependent manner (maximum effect 252+/-24% and 186+/-13% VS. control vector, respectively). While this effect required the full length promoter, cAMP stimulation was retained in shorter constructs. ICER reduced basal luciferase activity in Y1 cells by 17+/-28%, but completely abolished forskolin stimulation. Although 5'-deletion constructs mapped the minimum promoter region required for ICER effect to the shortest -64/+40 construct, direct protein DNA interaction in this promoter region could not be identified by EMSA. Moreover, mutation of the SF-1 binding sites, which retained ICER dependent inhibition, excluded SF-1 to be required for this effect. We conclude from these data that transcription factors of the CREB/CREM/ATF family have a moderate effect on human MC2-R promoter activity, but seem to play a minor role in transmitting stimulation of the cAMP pathway to increased MC2-R expression.